Porirua Seeks New Pokies RegulationsTisha Walden | 12 Jun 2019
The Porirua City community in New Zealand is making itself heard. They are calling for stricter measures to be taken regarding electronic Poker machines. According to spokespeople from a community protest group, the local community needs more protection, and authorities should be taking a sterner stance with regulations. This comes as the City Council is still in discussions over a new policy, which may yet come into play in regulatory laws. Called the Class 4 Gambling Policy, if adopted, it could change local regulatory laws.
Following Council discussion, a verbal hearing is still set to take place on 12th June. The hearing will be held in the Te Rauparaha Arena. Members of the protest group are expected to use the time to make themselves heard, with their primary concern stated as being the harm electronic Poker machines cause the most vulnerable citizens of the city.
Concerns To Be Voiced
Tony Sutoris, a resident of the city, has already declared his view on the machines, and the impact he says they have on his neighbours. Upon being allowed to speak at the public hearing, Sutoris has said that he will demand tougher regulations. He explained that he has seen the electronic gambling consoles steal from poorest of the poor, while operators pay only lip service to being ethical in their business. The machines are corrupting communities, Sutoris declared, and revenue portions given to good causes are nothing more than attempts to appear fair.
Sutoris concluded his statement by pointing out that only seven cents of each dollar taken is being given to the community, which did not balance out broader harm being done.
Unlike at an online casino, there were also no self-control measures available and self-exclusion limits and encouragement to gamble responsibly was not part of land-based play.
Sinking Lid Policy Solution
A report released revealed that NZ$13 million had been lost in twelve venues in the city, over the previous year alone. 165 poker machines in 12 venues were responsible, with 10 of the 12 being in the poorest districts. Naomi Solomon, spokesperson of the Ngāti Toa, elaborated that a large percentage of those impacted were the Māori population. She echoed calls for new regulations, and for firmer steps to be taken to reduce the impact of gambling in the area.
Peshi Ah-Honi, National Director Pacific Services at Mapu Maia, commented that she felt a sinking lid policy was in order, which would dramatically help the situation, without drastic steps having to be taken. A sinking policy dictates that if a venue closes, that no permission will be granted for future venues to open and take its place. There is no word on if this step will be taken.